online marketing psychology

January 24, 2010

Ice cream: a universal language?

The other day I was talking with a friend about the names of the so called Heartbrand, the umbrella brand that covers the ice cream operations of Unilever. Every country has the same logo, but the name of the brand that changes from country to country.

In Belgium I knew it as Ola, and when I arrived here I realized that Ola actually means hello in Portuguese. But Brasil uses a different word: Kibon.
That made me wonder, whether they wanted to keep more abstract naming, and have the name not actually meaning something. Turns out that the names relate to the way the company expanded its operations.
In every country were they expanded through acquisitions, they just kept the name of the original company. This way, familiarity with the brand continued even under new management.

And to satisfy my inner child (don't ask), I made a small overview from the names and countries where they are used!
  • Olá (Portugal)
  • Ola (Holland, South Africa and Belgium)
  • Algida (Greece, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey and Hungary)
  • Holanda (Mexico)
  • Tio Rico (Venezuela)
  • Helados La Fuente (Colombia)
  • Pingüino (Ecuador)
  • Kibon (Brazil)
  • Bresler (Chile and Bolivia)
  • Eskimo (Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Czech Republic)
  • Frigo (Spain)
  • Frisko (Denmark)
  • GB Glace (Finland and Sweden)
  • Strauss (Israel)
  • HB Ice cream (Ireland)
  • Kwality Wall's (India)
  • Langnese (Germany)
  • Miko (Egypt (ميكو) and France)
  • Lusso (Swiss)
  • Streets (Australia, New Zealand)
  • Wall’s (United Kingdom, Signapore, China and Pakistan)
  • Good Humor (United States of America)
  • Selecta (Philippines)
What about your your earliest childhood brand obsessions? :)

January 23, 2010

Brands of Brazil: searching black gold with Petrobras

When talking about Brazilian brands, they don't really get bigger than Petrobras. In a recent study it came out as the eight biggest company in the world, with a turnover of $164.8 billion. That is more than the GDP of a country like Pakistan. How did it get so big?

about Petrobras

Although the oil industry was liberated in 1997, today the majority of the company is still in the hands of the government. Petrobras has operations all around the world, with recent ventures in Portugal and Turkey, where it looks to get involved in the energy battle around the Black Sea. Activities of the company include exploration, production, refining and transport of oil and natural gas in South America. It also generates side products from the oil production such as synthetic rubber. It is also generates and distributes electricity. In 2008 a big oil field was discovered in the deep waters on the Brazilian coast (it actual size is still uncertain but it could be the third largest oil field in the world). They built a cool flash application that has more info.
At a time when we try to make people less dependent on fossil fuels, a discovery of this magnitude complicates things. What do you mean there is no more oil?! The oil is located 7000m under the sea. That makes the extraction very difficult and poses many risks to the fragile ecologic system at that depth. But the third largest oil field of course means a lot of money and power. In the reformation of the economic world order this is an important asset for Brazil to have.

Another activity of theirs is the extraction of ethanol from crops such as soy, corn, wheat sugar cane. The latter is the most popular as it is the cheapest to produce. Alternative fuels are really popular in Brazil as they are cheaper then regular gasoline and available in all gas stations. But the company doesn't see these alternative fuels as the solution to the future energy problem. Estimated investments in alternative fuels will be around 1% of the profits in the period 2008-2015.

 brand portfolio

short: BR
slogan: O desafio e a nossa energia (the challenge is our energy)
Usage: On their 7000 gas stations worldwide, its fuel products (gasoline, diesel, alcohol and kerosine) and other oil derivative products for industry application or household usage.

subbrands Ferbrax (railway industry) and Marbrax (maritime industry).
Lubricant products

The main brand that is being communicated is the Petrobras brand. Everything in its 6000 gas stations in Brazil and 1000 abroad (spread over in 27 countries) is Petrobras branded. Products that are being sold under the Lubrax name also carry the Petrobras logo in small on the package.

Advertisements in magazines, newspapers and on TV mainly focus on further establishing the Petrobras brand. Targeted industry ads are used for its Ferbrax and Marbrax brands. These ads are not limited to Brazil but they also run in other key markets like Argentine, Bolivia and Colombia.

Apart from their ads just to push their brands and products, they also feature a lot of their social activities.
They are the largest sponsor of arts, culture, sports and environmental protection in Brazil. On aUS$15 billion turnover they invested US$330 million.

With high profile sponsorships such as the Rio de Janeiro Flamengo football team (champion in season 2009) and the BMW-Williams F1 team until 2006. They also featured advertisements on a car in the movie Speed Racer, probably trying to establish a more international profile.

Their first steps into social media, caused some controversy. The company launched a corporate blog (Facts and Numbers) last June and featured interviews with a couple of its key executives. The questions for these interviews were actually used in a different and at the time still unpublished interview from newspapers. These last ones saw it as an infringement on their copyright on the questions. Now the battle has diminished and they have been steadily blogging ever since.

Follow this link to discover more Brands of Brazil.

January 20, 2010

Strike at Inbev opportunity for Belgian beer competitor?

For two weeks now management and unions at AB Inbev, global brewer with Belgian roots, have been battling over cutbacks. These cutbacks would among other things lead to the sacking of 300 employees.
The union wants the plans changed and the Brazilian/American management is not giving in. This led to a blockade that has been put up at the production facilities in Belgium. After two weeks of cutting the beer flow from the factories, supplies are drying up. Supermarkets and pubs are running out of beer. If the strikes continues chances are that there is no Stella Artois or Hoegaarden available next week!

The reason for writing about this is not just because this story combines Belgium, Brazil and my favourite beer, Stella Artois, but there is of course a marketing angle!

Most of the time these blockades take place in a casual atmosphere where a beer is never far away. Inbev refused its employees to supply beer from its own inventories. An ideal opportunity for Primus, a nearby competitive brewery. The company supplied the strikers with its beer, after a request by the strikers is being said. Great timing since they had full page ads running in various newspapers on the same day ;)
These actions put the Primus brand in the center of attention.
The financial crisis hits a sector which most Belgians feel proud of, might evoke certain emotions among the consumers. And these are not the type of associations you want for your brand. But I believe this initiative should be looked from a positive angle. No doubt the company is exploiting a weakness of its competitor, but it is doing it in a very friendly way. Which I think many people will appreciate.

January 17, 2010

Brands of Brazil: getting ready for world domination

Brazil is one of the emerging markets of the world, the famous BRICs. The driver behind this new power is a large market of consumers, and of course companies that try to satisfy these consumers.

But who are these companies that are becoming more global and enter into fiercer competition with the rest of the world? These are brands that could really impact the future, so it is important to know about them!

In a study by Interbrand in 2001, a top 12 of Brazilian brands was made (based on market value):

1. Itaú (bank)
2. Bradesco (bank)
3. AmBev (brewer)
4. Banco do Brasil (bank)
5. Unibanco (bank)
6. Embraer (aircraft manufacturer)
7. Varig (national airline)
8. Multibras (household appliances)
9. Embratel (telecommunications)
10. Gradiente (consumer electronics)
11. Sadia (food company)
12. Tigre (pipe and fittings manufacturer)

A quick glance at this list shows that the banking industry was  well represented (4 companies in the top 10), which I find a bit strange seeing the financial problems the country had around that time. The other positions are represented by companies in various industries.

So although I am not going to do a financial valuation of brands, I will check brands that are strong in Brazil and abroad. One study that I will use as my guide is the BCG study about Global Challengers, new upcoming companies that will challenge the established economic order.

So keep reading to see what has become of the brands from 2001. But nine years is a long time and some might have changed form through mergers or acquisitions. But more on that when I cover the companies!

Subscribing  is an easy way to stay up to date without having to remember to check the page!

Brands of Brazil:

Foto by schuey at Flickr

January 15, 2010

Heineken ready to become big in cerveja land

In comparison with its global competitors, the Dutch brewer Heineken only plays a small part in the Latin beer market. An article in the Financial Times also pointed out that the company should diversify out of the the developed markets. With a young population, beer the most important beverage and a rising disposable income these emerging markets are the key to future growth.

Hello New World!

After getting more established in India, the acquisition of Mexican brewer Femsa opens up the doors to the Latin market. The deal includes the Mexican operations (with important exports to the US) and Femsa's Brazilian operations. These three markets (Mexico, Brazil and US) are the most important profit pools for beer in the world.

With this acquisition the company obtains a good position on the Mexican market. The strategy is to build out the national brands in the Femsa portofolio and also export these brands to the Hispanic market in the US. Further Heineken looks to position its core brand Heineken as a national brand in Mexico, which will require brand building.

And establishing the Heineken brand in Brazil will also be difficult because the group is heavily underrepresented (a market share of 9 percent) in comparison with Inbev AB, which controls 70 percent of the market.

In an already saturated market with heavy competition from both SABMiller and Inbev AB, which has the two top brands in Brazil, it will be a though challenge. But as Brazilian beer consumption is expected to rise 22% in 2008-2015, there is a chance for growth.

January 12, 2010

How to leak information like Apple and become the hottest product in town

As we are getting closer to an expected announcement about a new  Apple product, a kind of tablet computer, it is surprising has been no official announcements by the company on the subject. Part of Apple's reputation is that it never communicates about unreleased products, so most information that is available now is based on speculation.
But it seems that behind the screen there is in fact some communication going on. In an article by a former Apple senior executive, their method was explained. To get some information out, the network of people working at Apple is used to leak some information to a news outlet. Most of the time these are done either in person or through a phone call, making sure there are no traces. This technique was probably used for a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that talked about the new product.

The interesting part is why this information needs to get out. There a couple of possibilities:

  • to inform the right people on what is to come; both analysts and the general public
  •  to put pressure on a partner to steer negotiations. The rumored features on the device allow a lot of possible deals to be made: such as ebook deals, entertainment. Many partners and a lot of money at stake means difficult negotiations 
  • to use it as a consumer research tool and see the reaction of the public to a US$1,000 price point.
  • to deliberately leak false information, to disinform competitors who are trying to prepare a fighting strategy when the device hits the market.
If you see any other reasons why using this strategy would be good, or have any suggestions, please leave some in the comments!

January 5, 2010

A campaign as infectious as the disease?

After the previous post about using marketing to influence citizens' smoking behaviour, here is another public health campaign. On that battles a disease called dengue.

This is a tropical disease that results in severe headaches, fever, rash, muscle pains, and many other things. Untreated it can be deadly. Estimates are that every year 50 million people across the globe are infected. Up until now there is no vaccine yet, but scientists are working on it.

Market research on the dengue virus
After a couple of epidemic outbreaks in Brazil around late 19th and throughout 20th century, numbers seemed to have settled at the end of the eighties to around 75 000 infections a year. But in 2002 an epidemic broke out in Rio de Janeiro infecting 290 000 and killing over 90 people. In 2008 another dengue outbreak infected 250 000 and killed 174 people in the state of Rio.
This increase in numbers is partially explainable by more people moving into the cities and the accumulation of trash in these cities. How is trash related to dengue? The disease is transmitted by mosquito's and they have a good breading ground in trash where water can accumulate. The solution is mosquito control, limiting the opportunities for larve to develop to full blown disease carriers.

As said before, the mosquito is a key link in infecting people. So the main focus is to take this link out by eradicating this mosquito.

To achieve this there are all sorts of information brochures for all parts of the population and commercials. Various campaigns have been in place, but I guess the high increases of infections the last couple of years pressured the government to take some extra measures.

The latest effort is a combination of brochures, commercials on radio and TV, in combination with a website and presence on various social media. The social media presence isn't specifically for this campaign but it is all grouped onto general pages from the Ministry of Health.On Facebook and Orkut, they are represented as friends (not a fan page) and the Twitter account has some 6000+ followers but it also is targeted towards all the different efforts of the ministry. The Youtube account, called msgripesuina,(swine flue) features all the commercials on various subjects: stop crack use, efforts to reduce AIDS, combating dengue,... So more then actually connecting with people concerning the fight against dengue , a link is placed on the main campaign website to attract some visitors and fans to their pages. The government probably expects the biggest results from the traditional campaign. But I feel their scattered online presence doesn't really have an impact. Overall I don't think this campaign is too infectious.

picture by Fabricio Venâncio on Flickr